How to Machine Embroider Hats

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Things You'll Need

  • Hat
  • Ruler
  • Embroidery machine
  • Software
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Heavy cutaway stabilizer
  • Permanent marker
  • Sewing spray adhesive
  • Pins
  • Embroidery thread
  • Embroidery scissors

Personalizing the front, side or back of a hat is often a job saved for a multi-needle embroidery machine or a specialty cap hoop on a single-needle embroidery machine. Machine embroidering hats on a plain single-needle machine can be accomplished with some advanced preparation and a lot of patience. Using care is key to a successful design and stitch out.

Front Design

Decide where you would like the design to go on your hat. Measure to find out how large you will need the design to be.

Use the software for your specific machine to make your design. Load the design onto your machine per the manufacturer’s directions.

Hoop a piece of heavy cut-away stabilizer. Use your ruler to mark the center guidelines with a permanent marker. You should have a cross shape drawn in your hoop. Let dry.

Take your hat and unlatch the back where it adjusts for head width. Pull the fold of interfacing down. It looks like a flap of fabric that is tucked up into the hat. This will need to stay pulled out of the way while you are stitching. Flatten the bill of the hat with your hands. If it is too curved, it will prevent the hat from laying flat on the hoop.

Spray the stabilizer with the spray adhesive. Line the middle seam of the hat up with the middle line you drew on the stabilizer. Press the hat down onto the hoop. Make sure the interfacing flap is still pulled out away from the hat.

Pin the hat to the stabilizer. Place the pins around the edge of the hoop. You do not want to place them near the area where the stitches will go.

Lift the presser foot and place the hoop onto the machine. Snap it into place. Adjust the back of the hat so that the edges are turned up. You don’t want them cupping under the hoop and getting caught in the stitches.

Run the outline or the trace on your machine if it has such a feature. This runs the needle over the area where the actual stitches go. It moves the embroidery unit so you are able to see if the bill of the hat will be in the way or if you need to make any adjustments to where your design is placed on the hat. Make any needed adjustments.

Begin stitching. Slow your machine speed when it is stitching near the bill just to ensure that it goes smoothly.

Remove your hoop when the design has finished stitching. Take out all pins. Unhoop the stabilizer. Use your embroidery scissors to cut the stabilizer away from the inside of the hat. Follow the outline carefully. Cut any jump threads on the inside and outside.

Fold the interfacing of the hat back inside and reattach the back strap of the hat.

Side and Back Design

Decide where on the side or back you will want the design. Measure the area.

Follow the same instructions as the front design.

When you put the hat onto the hoop, orient the hat with the bill facing away from the embroidery unit or machine. For example, place it to the left or the back of the hoop. This will make it easier for the machine to move without hitting the bill.


  • Use a permanent marker to make your lines on your stabilizer. It will not rub off on the hat after it has dried.